Microsoft Azure IoT Edge – preview

Microsoft Azure IoT Edge – preview

Some weeks ago, the preview version of the Azure IoT Edge is made available. This software of Microsoft runs on Edge devices, like Linux or Windows. It brings some power of cloud computing to local Edge devices.

Why do you need an Edge Device ?

  1. Can be regulations that data cannot leave the country
  2. You need analytics near the device; for example when you have a Machine Learning model that predicts when a machine will be broken, you need to act fast. If you do this via the cloud, this can take too much time
  3. Internet; if you don’t have a good internet connection. For example slow connection on boring- or oil platforms. Then you can use the power of your Edge device at the plant and sync X time per day with the cloud.
  4. Do local things; for example you need to enable lights in a building, you don’t want to do this via the cloud, but want to have a direct connection to the light (also when the internet is down)
  5. ….

I have working for a year now with the (preview) IoT Edge software of Microsoft and this new version is really a huge step in the right direction:

Management from the Azure Portal!

You can now manage some things of the IoT Edge directly from the Azure portal.

iotedgemanagement

Within the Azure IoT Hub you have now an IoT Edge(preview) button Here you can create (just like a sensor) new IoT Edge devices. You can create just one, or deploy several Edge Devices in once (IoT Edge deployment). You can manage here your modules of every Edge device and see how the runtime status is.

Modules

This concept was already in the first version, but the management of modules is totally different now. You can now manage them directly from the Azure portal. You can just upload your modules in de portal and it will directly deployed to the edge device:

modulesedge.png

Pricing

The core of the Edge is free (and management of the Edge), you just need to have an Azure IoT Hub. You have the pay for the modules you use, like Stream Analytics, ML etc.:

 

Things I am missing or can’t find

  • Triggers when a device is down; I want to use the standard Azure alerts to trigger if an Edge device if offline for example. Yes you can program this in the Edge itself, but it would be great if I can use these Azure alerts.
  • Remote management; could be great when I complety get access to my Edge device (Windows or Linux) from Azure. Then I will have one entrance for the management of my IoT Edge devices
  • Start and stop a module on a Edge device in the Azure Portal.
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The preview release of Microsoft IoT Central

The preview release of Microsoft IoT Central

Yesterday Microsoft released IoT Central in public preview. A SaaS based solutions for IoT projects. This blog post will explain how to set up a trial IoT central and how you can create  new devices in the platform with rules. IoT central is still in preview, so a lot of functions are coming soon.

Some first thoughts of the service

These thoughts are based on the public preview release of december 2017:

1. Important thing I a missing or cannot found. Lot of our clients are using Sigfox or LORA protocol for device communication to Azure. I looks now this is not supported at the moment. Only developed devices with the Azure IoT SDK or other SDK (so that you can send clear (JSON)data) are supported. It would be great if we can connect Sigfox or Lora protocol devices to the platform and translate the message directly in IoT central. This will give a lot of opportunities for this platform.

2. Lot of functions are still in ‘coming soon’. Actions with e-mail for example is not really a scenario I can use in my current projects. I hope coming soon is really soon 🙂

3. I would love to have some Power BI integration in the future, so clients can create their own reports based on the data.

4. But… This SaaS solution can  be great for a lot of IoT projects. Costs are relative low for companies, it’s a managed service, so you don’t need to maintain IoT hub, Stream Analytics or other Azure services. And with a lot of device templates IoT projects could be start really fast within a day.

How do I create my own trial?

First of all you can create a free trial for 30 days. After the trial you will pay 500 dollars per month with 100 devices. Every additional device will cost 50 dollar cents per month. You will get a trial up and running in some minutes. If you go to the create a free trial page, you need to enter your application name, URL and Azure subscription.

createiotcentral
Create application

After that you can select three templates:

1. Custom App; it’s totally blank and you can create the app from scratch

2. Sample application (I use this one)

3. Sample Devkits; I own a MXchip Devkit, so I will test this later.

After hitting the ok button, the application will be enabled (within minutes). You will  enter the start page of your application.

startpageiotcentral
Startpage IoT Central

Because I have selected the sample Contoso application. I have directly a homepage with some elements on it. As a administrator I can set up my own homepage with own blocks.

On the left you can navigate in your application:

menuiotcentral
Menu IoT Central

From there you can create your own IoT devices. Click on device explorer and select New Real devices:

createdevice
Create a device

After you create a device, you can add one or more measurements to the device. Currently only Telemetry is supported.

createmeasurement
Create telemetry

You can create for example a temperature measurement like below

measurementfull
Create measurements

From the device you can also create rules based on the telemetry data from a device. From the device you can create currently only telemetry, the rest is coming soon.

rule1
Create telemetry rule

In the rule you can configure, that when the temperature is above 50 degrees an action need to be started. Currently only e-mail is supported.

rule2.png
Rules and actions

The other services are once again in coming soon mode, but they are very interesting.

I think this will be a great service if the blocks of ‘Coming Soon’ are gone and integration of LORA/Sigfox device protocol (HEX) would be great to start projects really fast. Else I have to create a service in front, that will translate the message and send that to IoT Central…